I remember the day the dead notes went mellifluous and I was in the texture of David Byrne singing: you’ve got light in your eyes. You’re standing in it—in fruit and color, the French word that replaced the apple as a general English condition. You can remember as much as you let yourself. You feel a certain quality of frontier tall talk in Joanna Newsom, love of this language breaking to show us what it feels like to stand on a crown unmade and remade as you make the desire with the one who listens. This is our lingua franca. There, the delay of what is always late to come, 7 million words you’ll never know. This is where sound comes in, to save you from the gaps. Shakespeare would have been a fantastic rapper and there are “yo mama” vocab books like yo mama so peripatetic she just kept walking and walking until she laid her body down on the crease of the world. The mother is the invisible key we keep because life is such that we cannot emerge ex nihilo. Some novels were lush with descriptions of the way people are, the sureness of Flaubert, exacting sentences that transmit Emma in her essence. How could I be the kind of person who doesn’t remember the drum of the boy’s peg leg or burning paper becoming black butterflies on a certain heavenward chimney path.
To return is to be returned to yourself in a moment of grace so subtle you don’t notice the whole world has shifted around you and you are suddenly where you were supposed to be, which is where you are…no matter where you are. Is this what Nietzsche meant when he talked about affirming everything that has come before you?
The words will always be there if you’ll let them be near. The committees of linguists and lexicographers will be there at the gate of the Big Book while a Glaswegian “nip” knocks at the door, begging for entrance. What unholy malapropisms I commit in my holiness because the breakdown and the adulteration of the movable tool is the only thing that makes life interesting: these words I remake, accidentally, because I can’t help but be wrong in a world that doesn’t make sense to me. This hole bore in the skin of language is the skylight of night, sitting on the midnight toilet—my thrown—throne—I know nothing until the enlarged moment sinks me. So quick is this plummet into thickness, which dwells at the depth of Shakespeare’s drowned book becoming a book of conceptual writing by women. We drown the language because we have been condemned to live a life of mostly not-knowing, writing around the naked moment, the underwater moment, when creatures are invaded, invading what invades them, the mermaid’s mind becomes a school of jeweled fish becomes a swarm of queen bees becomes a cloud of agitated moths billowing out of the sloth’s stirred hide. Who knows why some canopy dwellers lower themselves to bury their dung or how people can believe that speaking the Queen’s English will deliver them to mammon, self help-style.
The compound word, rived. Twain’s Mississippi River or Chaucer’s Canterbury—the texture of the language that moves without permission in endless proscription this movement of the thought hungry for unmapped bouquets and illicit crossbreeds breaking forms open. Obama’s drone strikes hover above all this motion, commotion, a wedding waiting to be destroyed in Yemen. How to live when everything invades—minimum wage, no-wage or ways to wage war with money. Ways to unlearn money or at least money as the primary measure of a life in contradiction and joy—we don’t understand. How stupid it is to believe that nothing moves without money, as though nothing moved before money, as though the tree grows for money, as though all movement can be reduced to the choice to work miserably toward the boss’s idiot dreams.
Don’t go to that place. Nature has given you a mind fine enough to know you have the best friends in the world. Your mind not quite literary but it may become so in the slant of your way of sensing the world.
We are making performance art about identity
Someone, Notify the galleries!
Art history is being made by the ones without history—they are laying claim to a narrative told from the craziest hole in the world I’ve ever seen
The under-narrative bellows and shatters all other narratives (hetero whitey bedtime stories and their grownup counterparts) making us (officially) the coolest people who have ever inhabited the earth and its history/ies-
Yes this army of dispossessed Asian lost girls who desire the romance of being in their lives (prodigiously) will save the world by making everything shitty go away or forcing wiener schnitzels to undergo accelerated evolution toward betterment—more than betterment. Only then will they be worthy of inhabiting this planet with us.
First of all nobody will survive money
Oh course I understand this poem and by that I mean I understand what it means to be a disappeared writer who wakes to tinnitus like all my life is this morning tinnitus because the soundtrack to my life is exhaustion, whereas those subalpine I mean sibylline those sumptuous beauts of the celestial order have got a kinder aural factory atmosphere symphony factory to make the day leap with a plangent start.
A dream comes to me and I am in a classroom being tested. no one is present to administer the test—I must be here to test myself. (We know how that will go.) What makes this dream interesting is that I am waiting for someone i do not know (i.e. a stranger). And then I’m outside in the desert and it’s cold it’s a vacant rodeo and I’m still waiting. Approach, already!
Who said: is this WoC ontology — this waiting — Debbie knows and loves the poem of waiting, and all great poems of waiting — Tennyson COME INTO THE GARDEN MAUD — which may or may not be a poem of waiting though we did have to wait to look it up on the computer. Between remembrance and re-enactment: there is waiting
But I truly believe we’re not waiting to become our better selves, that we’re already so great as it is. We are aureoled beings doing our being thing
It’s not easy being alive
This I know
But sometimes the moon is such that you just kind of slide into the glory hole that is your life, the brave freewheeling musicality of existence.
Luv every part of yourself, even the failed ones
(DEBBIE SAYS: THE MOON IS A GLORY HOLE)
yes of course i remember T—. how is T—?? are you both based out of new york? how do you feel living in new york?
i would love to write for ____ Mag. i would love to write zines and live with punk-hipster hybrids who would never identify as such; in general i would love to be a part of the underworld you are creating because even the parts that looked most ugly to me when i was in it, the parts i hated most because i couldn’t “relate,” now look so beautiful to me, irreducibly brave. from my sad hole in the world i know that what i have to learn from insurrectionists is precisely this art of the underworld, perhaps i have come to this lesson too late. i don’t think i’m cool enough to write for your magazine though i like it—at one point in my life i would probably have resisted it, not all of it but maybe the parts of it that would never have an ole nerd like me, tho if i remember correctly T is kind of a nerd—it’s never either-or, all-or-nothing, is it?
all that to say i think writing for your magazine would be good for my soul, or the part of my soul that has been snuffed out by too much time alone in the desert. words don’t come easy to me these days. but you should keep bugging me about it. i dunno. i hate society as much as anyone else but my rejection of the world is now manifest as a kind of muteness in the face of what i hate.
To those who delete their blog posts out of embarrassment for having revealed something abject or unspeakable: it is irresponsible to not write the truth. These acts of telling, of saying what nobody else will come out and say, will always be humiliating. Not just humiliating—it will make you unemployable! But you’ll continue to do it because you know you have something to add to that thing we culture.
Yes, it burns a little when everyone around you is relieved by your acts of telling. Because you’re the girl who keeps it real! You’re emotional relief for respectable and repressed people.
Do the respectable people I sometimes email google me? (Impulse to unwrite myself.) No, they shall have to see me as I am.
It’s the only thing I’ve ever been good at—inserting myself where I don’t belong. I don’t belong in the consciousnesses of respectable people. Yet sometimes, there I am.
Everywhere I go I am okay, taken care of, because the punks and the feminists and the rad POC and my extended queer family always come through. I think I must be the luckiest person alive!! Outcasts stick together orphans of the world unite surviving creatively with tears and fabulousness since the beginning of time
The way you look when you are asleep or the way sleep looks at you, you are coming out of the water. And the water is where you the pieces of you come together before you are born afraid.
People aren’t born afraid. They’re made by fear. Every time you told her to put her crayons away, to put the purple crayon away because you’ve never heard of an indigo-marred physiognomy, marred strokes of what looks so sweet to the one who has has not yet formed fear.
Out of ocean graves she is given a half chance to live. She’s dead. She’s not dead. She is the place where death becomes the opening of something holy in its dismemberment. Who was meant to die but instead slept prostrate on the sidewalk in the city while the city was awake
and woke while the city slept —
ambulatory nights alone, crawling toward the moon. We might be saved this way, by dint of our longing to be free and in doing so, freeing what we touch. My slipped disc is the price of being free and by free I mean, not in search of money. Every free person knows they are walking into their grave. But time doesn’t need us. The forest doesn’t need us, the crown needs a head but it need not be yours. You haunt the forest of spines the way the spine haunts you: in the back, delaying transmission to the legs. You become more than one when your body is in revolt because your body becomes a hostile foreigner. You become three, the one who is not away. The body that fights itself on your behalf.
The oceans gives talismans to the sailors it loves - it is you. You’ll be the one to build the world never meant for you, you’ll build a word out of scraps of hair, sugar, liquified flesh. And every pebble you palmed and could not forget.
The legend is the language that left when you needed it most, and now you are on your way to the sky by way of the mouth.
Nocturnal girl has lost her itinerant lover…the wind. She’ll come back for me. They’ll come back for me. One day they’ll all come back for me. She lost her teeth on the way to being born. She’s under the claw of the creatures she made, talons that lift her by the hair and drop her on an island shaped like your face. All those nights alone, doodling in words to keep herself warm.
8 years old. There was so much time to be famous. More to get old. What’s old? You don’t know old.
After the body there’s the birth of your shadow in a pedal as large and potent as earth itself. The insane girls will miss the way you waltz toward death. Bodies from the ground there are so many bodies coming up from the ground. It’s your secret. Being alive is your secret and secrets always ruin the ones who keep them. We sleep on the shore like ruined people braiding out dream into a single knot. Bound, when you’re bound to me I can no longer be afraid of myself but afraid, of you.
I come at the poem recklessly. Some peculiar way to be a sentence in the letting go. Peregrinations of the sentence that outruns you. It wakes up where you left off when you fell asleep.
She’s waiting for her hour.
She’s waiting for the moment the cottonwood seeds blow across the sky,
The seeds are her signal.
Here on earth she waits for the moment the sea is ready to take her back.
They’re a pair of old dykes who were always supposed to be together
I had a dream and right when I woke up I didn’t know if it happened
The world happens.
We could be happy, post apocalypse, just us - surviving ourselves with laughter while everyone else is afraid
The way I am in the world is a game, some days I’m wherever the words put me,
Me? I had a case of not being able to get up. The staircases grew around. I grew fearful of what I knew I could not mount. I could not get up. I was covered in windows whispering - get up - whipping me, the house tried to whip me awake…for some privacy. Are you worried about your words? Hey do, Ernst. They’ll do wrist they wish. The words will do what they wish to what you don’t understand. The way a rose falls asleep on the moon, or the amount of blood you lose before dying.
Seeds blown across her window became the secret of how to begin
She held coins in her pockets all winter
Waiting for the song to spill out of the forest
For the forest was the father that left her,
And the ocean was mother’s love so wide it could drown her
I return to where I go, not knowing where I am
Or who I am
But I know
My people were not born afraid
What creature are you of the night of bird and water and arboreal eyes, liminal limbs. You are the truth of waiting. it closes not.
What creature comes, leaves…the crests ego scone. The creature who comes, leaves. Trampled sea-ling with alien eyes.
What creatures become when out of water. The kind of person who falls asleep on the sidewalk dreaming the waves of her youth.
When the creature comes we won’t have her. She’s here, halving herself. She’s made more of herself just to spite us.
We all exist
But some of us exist less,
Exist for our right to fall asleep alone
We are of a nation of unreported rates of alien rape but rates of sightings in the sky abound.
Between ocean and sky—there’s so much space. Space space space
They say, you’re too sky for water and too wet for heaven.
There’s no crime like the crime of being liminal.
I understand the relationship between gunfire and rain
When it fires, someone rains
And the hot air turns cold, pauses in search of a rapprochement
Beyond sky there is a way to leave me out of this
I am the child saint who smells of cut grass and myrrh
I am what is holy about my incurability
My way of bending into the blue fire, holding the book
In every door of my body there is a violent egg
Powdered enough to receive the men of the streets
The war is in the tempo you force on me with your cesurae
Your face is in every part of my body
I grow and grow and grow and and grown by the pieces of myself cut off and buried in the ground.
God will harvest me crush me dead I don’t care, because I was born dead but just silver or alive enough to have a mouth for god’s rood
The dead girl has her own alphabet made of funeral flowers
The way she wears her rose crown, with shame…
Some lived the sea path and did not miss touching…
Let me go to sleep. The world won’t let me go to sleep but won’t let me be awake. Liminal liminal liminal
One by one, I’m not free. My fear is bottomless, takes away my blossom language
Could being alive be called a curse? It was a curse to be alive. I made my splendor while everyone slept. It was my secret.
The bud becomes an ideal symbol for anything, especially those things inadequate in their own right. The bud with its ability, exercised or not, to flower. Flowering is in bud’s repertoire though it is not in the repertoire of some others. So this fragile and not yet (until it opens) showy bud has this power of transformation. Kinnell writes that “…everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing” and this self-blessing enthralls me as much as the bud, for the blessing does not depend upon some external dispenser of blessing and approval, yet despite emphasis upon self-empowerment, reverence is not wrecked, for it is too much evidenced in the poem’s extreme yet necessary compassion.
More important than either “bud” or “self-blessing,” however, is Kinnell’s admission in lines five and six that “sometimes it is necessary / to reteach a thing its loveliness”; I have been one of those needing to be retaught. Oh the truth and brilliance, for truth must radiate, or “reteach”; the thing, all things, all things represented by the bud were privy to loveliness. Loveliness is the state of origin, but something happens, perhaps just birth and of course all of birth’s consequences, that teaches the thing inferiority, ugliness, self-loathing. The lesson of loveliness is not a new one, but was foundational knowledge that must be excavated so that the interrupted process of blossoming can resume. And words are insufficient to impart this reteaching. That which has become repulsive, that which has been relegated inferior and untouchable must be embraced by that which is confident of its own lovely status. It is the combination of touch and language that restores the loveliness and returns the repulsive to the bud which is also chrysalis and all those things whose definition is change or access. Kinnell’s injunction is to “retell it in words and in touch/ it is lovely”; there is no redefinition involved, no mere shift of perspective, for it is all return. Maybe it is a return to an implausible ideal, and maybe after a day or two of everything aware of its own (inert) loveliness I would miss the harsher (active) judgments, but this poem knows well many of my struggles and knows also that I overcame them only by blossoming as I did for certain nurturers I’ve met along the way, nurturers like Saint Francis who loved anything that could be called beast.
"…and the sow began remembering…" not the "great broken heart" nor how it had become broken, but its own splendor that the sow after this touch, here more sincere than consolation, must maintain or risk another birth through a trapdoor to grief. It is shocking sometimes what lies buried under torment, grief, and anger. A graveyard of marvelous buds should not be nipped.
jackie, oh jackie oh, you never got an answer about where you came from. your relationship to white femininity is doomed because you are named after jackie o and you can’t think of anything more ridiculous: little brown lost-girl named after american royalty. you could say you are from a nation that would never let you feel royal but you don’t know, sometimes you feel royal, but in a freakish, inverted way—not materially royal but spiritually royal. by spiritually royal you mean a certain feeling after you have given up, after you accept your failure and go for a walk. on this walk you feel the world becoming yours—not in a way that is possessive or projective but a way of just being that nobody can take away from you. in the woods beneath the viaduct at sunset, the river to your left: the whole scene makes you by unwriting you and drawing you into the landscape. your feet sink into the mud. the world opens.
in chicago you asked your friends 5 times who miley cyrus was and they explained but for some reason it didn’t stick. the next time she came up you asked again, and every time you would say, “ohhhh hannah montana!” you, bona fide troglodyte—you ask them about lana del rey: who is this woman whose sad voice captivated me in Gatsby? and they explain and you say, ohhh i know the type. a plath girl! and how elegantly she suffers, how large and finely clothed, arrayed in tulle, eyeliner running down her cheek…pearled, cinematic. when you cry you just look like ET and you wonder—does ET in a red dress look glamorous? does her red dress make you care that she’s so far from home, or that she doesn’t even remember where home is, or if she’s ever felt at home anywhere?
lana del rey just wants to be free yet she’s a racist. you’ll listen to the songs for their half-truths, because you’re so fractured you no longer expect things to speak to you fully. you accept pieces of everything, there’s no other way. you’re as much as a road dog as the white brunette in her cut-off denim shorts, waving her american flag, in search of a mythical american outsider-caste—for you it is the punks, and your anti-american americana, your new-weird-america, is the queer one, maybe the one allen ginsberg wrote about: unproductive, abject—why is the american canon so damn queer and does it make you more american to be (aesthetically) loose and gay and searching? james baldwin says that if you don’t accept this contradiction—the fact of being from the land you despise—you will never be able to develop a sense of where you are…whence you come. sometimes you think about how curious it is that the only modernist poet who wanted to write an epic that was uniquely american was a fag—you are thinking of hart crane’s The Bridge, and how his america was constituted by all of those purged by america: train-hopping tramps and other remainders of american capitalism…gay sailors cruising beneath the brooklyn bridge and the prophet-outcasts that guide the reader across the continent and back again, through new york’s purgatorial subway system and up toward the light on heavenward arching paths.
do the punk rock vagabonds see themselves as part of an american nomadic tradition? and where are you in all this? wandering, always. when you told her you were named after jackie o she said that maybe you should change your name but you wondered what it would mean to claim this name, a named tied to american royalty. jackie o, gay icon—could she be a gay herself? could you be a better jackie o than lana del rey and where do you fit in this white-girl archive of feelings—their ways of suffering?
(this photo came up when i google image searched “jackie kennedy blood.” from a series titled Royal Blood—how fitting.)
lost-girls just wanna be free—you can meet them that far but you’re not sure you could make a pillbox hat and blood sexy. the baby dyke just wanted to be free, was always getting into trouble with the law. she let you borrow lisa carver’s autobiography Drugs are Nice: A Post-Punk Memoir and would love to cruise around with you blasting those feel-good songs. marie calloway has reblogged your writings, what’s that about. it’s cool, you think. the lost-girl’s way of finding herself in being lost…is cool. she explores the the process by which no-core becomes a core in itself. call it inverted power, negative capability—whatever: this way of giving life by making yourself dead because you “are” for others, and you write in the letter that when there is no one to write to, you don’t feel like writing at all. where are you in these narratives of lost-girls? her work is an anatomy of feminine negation and the place where the chameleon soul has more substance than the self-constituting soul because it is everything like whitman made a place for himself as the greatest american poet by becoming everything but of course not everyone can make a career of making themselves nothing to become everything—some are made nothing. some are better at being nothing than others. can suffer with grace. can lose themselves with grace. can lose themselves and still have: a story.
where are you in it all? an ungainly lost-girl. an uncouth dyke. you were never american—you were always america’s nightmare, an enemy of the state and self-described anarchist since age 13—your mom even accused you of being a terrorist. your older brother is not an american—he is property of america: a prisoner. you never possessed the pulchritude or social grooming or poise or skin color to live up to your name. jackie o: america’s tragic Queen. what would it mean to claim this name? to steal the crown. to say, i am what constitutes this name, this boundary, however contradictory—to say you are what you were never supposed to be.
“Our crown, you said, has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do, you said, is wear it.” (Toni Morrison quoting James Baldwin)
BREAKING NEWS!!!! HERMAN WALLACE IS COMING HOME!
Please join supporters at Coliseum Square, New Orleans (Race and Annunciation) for a welcome home vigil starting at 8 PM tonight, the ambulance carrying Herman to hospice will pass by. Be part of this tremendous moment in history. Show your support by bringing candles, welcome home signs, your person, your laughter. Power to the PEOPLE!!!!!
update on Herman Wallace from Jackie Sumell, as of 30 minutes ago:
“the ambulance Angola 3 Supporters hired is waiting outside the prison but the warden is refusing to release Herman- the judge just issued a strong order to the State and we are still fighting to get him out of there today.”
wtf, seriously? he’s dying. let the man go